ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 96-167

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Ottawa, 30 May 1996
Decision CRTC 96-167
Country Broadcasting Corp.
Galiano and Mayne Islands, British Columbia - 950773200
Licence renewal
Following a Public Hearing in Vancouver beginning on 27 February 1996, the Commission renews the Class 2 (fewer than 2,000 subscribers) licence held by Country Broadcasting Corp. (Country), for the cable distribution undertaking serving Galiano and Mayne Islands, from 1 June 1996 to 31 August 1999.
With the exception of the requirements stipulated in section 23 of the Cable Television Regulations, 1986 (the regulations), the operation of this undertaking is regulated pursuant to Parts I, III and IV of the regulations and the licence will be subject to the conditions in effect under the current licence as well as to those conditions specified in the licence to be issued.
Country, which is owned by Mr. Leigh Hillier, was first awarded a licence for a cable distribution undertaking to serve Galiano and Mayne Islands in 1991. That licence imposed a deadline for the licensee to implement the service within twelve months. During the first licence term, Country requested and was granted two extensions of the implementation deadline, the second one coinciding with the expiry of the first licence term on 31 August 1994.
In Notice of Public Hearing CRTC 1994-6 dated 8 April 1994, the Commission noted that the system was not yet in operation, despite the above-noted extensions to the deadline for implementation, and called the licensee to a hearing to show cause as to why its licence to serve Galiano and Mayne Islands should be renewed.
At the subsequent hearing, which was held in Saskatoon beginning on 6 June 1994, Mr. Hillier acknowledged the long delay in implementing service on the two islands. He stated that the delays were due, in part, to decisions made by himself, but were also attributable to a variety of factors beyond his control, including delays in construction by BCTel.
In Decision CRTC 94-434 dated 21 July 1994, the Commission renewed Country's licence to serve Galiano and Mayne Islands, for a period of six months only, from 1 September 1994 to 28 February 1995. The Commission stated that, in reaching its decision, it had taken into account, among other things, the fact that the licensee had obtained written assurances from BCTel that the remaining construction would be completed within three months. The Commission also noted the licensee's firm commitment to implement service on both Galiano and Mayne Islands, and Country's commitment to surrender the licence if the system were not in operation by the end of November 1994.
On three subsequent occasions, the Commission granted the licensee administrative renewals, extending the licence term for a total of 15 months, to 31 May 1996. Further, the Commission repeatedly sought confirmation that the cable system serving the two islands was in operation. In a letter dated 17 February 1995, the Commission requested the licensee to confirm either that the undertaking was in operation, or that it would surrender its licence. In response, the licensee stated that the system was completed and would be in operation by 28 February 1995. In May 1995, however, the licensee acknowledged that the system had been operational only since 3 April 1995, and only on Mayne Island.
In Notice of Public Hearing CRTC 1995-16 dated 27 December 1995, the Commission called the licensee to appear at the Vancouver Public Hearing on 27 February 1996 to again show cause as to why its broadcasting licence to serve Galiano and Mayne Islands should be renewed. The notice stated that, as of 27 November 1995, while the licensee was providing some service to Mayne Island, no service to Galiano Island had been provided. Approximately two weeks prior to the Vancouver hearing, Country advised the Commission that service had commenced to some subscribers on Galiano Island, as of 14 February 1996.
At the hearing, the Commission noted a number of complaints it had received from subscribers concerning the quality of the service provided by Country, and discussed with the licensee the reasons for those complaints. Mr. Hillier gave assurances to the Commission that all quality-related service concerns had been resolved by October 1995, and that, to his knowledge, no such problems have recurred.
While Mr. Hillier again acknowledged that the lengthy delays in providing service were due, at least in part, to his own mistakes, he was able to submit evidence that, most recently, the delays were attributable to difficulties in laying cable to Galiano Island.
In light of the foregoing, the Commission considers that the licensee has shown cause why its licence should be renewed, but for a short term only. In this regard, the Commission notes that service was not available to subscribers on Galiano Island until February 1996.
The licence term granted herein will enable the Commission to monitor the licensee's performance, especially in regard to the provision of an adequate quality of service throughout Country's authorized service area, and to consider the next licence renewal of this undertaking at an early date.
While not unmindful of the difficulties involved in providing service to isolated and sparsely populated areas, the Commission strongly encourages the licensee to provide cable service to the portions of Country's authorized service area not currently served, as soon as it becomes feasible to do so.
In Public Notice CRTC 1992-59 dated 1 September 1992 and entitled "Imple-mentation of an Employment Equity Policy", the Commission announced that the employment equity practices of broadcasters would be subject to examination by the Commission. In this regard, the Commission encourages the licensee to consider employment equity issues in its hiring practices and in all other aspects of its management of human resources.
The Commission acknowledges the interventions submitted in support of this application.
This decision is to be appended to the licence.
 Allan J. Darling
 Secretary General

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